What happens when I approach survivors to do research for my pending novel, Shadows, who are not used to talking? Survivors are probably not thinking to themselves excellent, excellent, excellent at such a time, I know. Yet somehow it all works out.
I receive moments, both of us softening again. Softening that which had
been hardened pain for so long.
We start like barnacles on the bottom of a ship, seemingly impossible to scrape off, infecting every lake it goes to, risking barnacles on every ship, kayak or boat that enters the new lake. Yet, with caring faith-filled talk the barnacles start to come off. So new waters are well—actually new, clear, not contaminated.
Intermittently I still have that sense of excellent, excellent, excellent in me, and I love bringing that sense out in others. Somewhere in the journey since second grade I lost the radiant confidence of writing excellent, excellent, excellent on my own report card. Maybe the pain of too much change, too much teasing from kids who saw me as different, too much of not talking of loss and change hardened the barnacles on my ship-of-too-much-change.
I scarred right where I yearned to connect to others. I withdrew, not wishing to risk more pain.
When I talk to survivors of World War II Japanese Concentration Camps in the Pacific (Dutch East Indies-Indonesia) pains are always lessened. Oh, they don’t disappear, but no matter when the era of sharing occurs, pain shared is pain lessened.
I leave you with a quote from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening, where he teaches us to be soft again. (The reading appears in his book on February 19.)
“…unborn children … can now be operated on in utero. Profoundly, these state-of-the-art techniques reveal a deep timeless truth about growth and healing. For just as amazing as the fact of these operations , is the fact that these surgeries leave no scars once the infant is born.”
Let me know your responses when you too sit (as I did on February 19), with Mark’s meditation:
- Sit quietly and bring to mind an aspect of your personality that tends to get in the way. It might be your own brand of stubbornness or distrust or envy.
- As you breathe steadily, allow yourself to trace this trait to its soft beginning.
- Without trying to name it or change it, simply surrounds this soft inner spot with your love.
Gary Lange says
Excellent thoughts and exercise as we grow and improve!
Thanks Gary, glad this one hit the spot. What I liked about this exercise, like all of Mark Nepo’s writing, is that there is not a hint of negative judgment about being impacted by the past. Rather, there is this lovely exercise of removing scars of the past by contemplating loving softness around any pain. Hope you are having an awesome week!